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Our Climate Journey with Veda Madhusudan

“Yes, Zum is transitioning its fleets to electric vehicles, which is a huge step toward decarbonization, but one of the coolest aspects of this—and one that’s often not talked about—is that, by exposing students, parents, and schools to electrified transportation, we’re increasing awareness of cleaner methods of living, we’re changing the narrative, we’re changing the norm.”

Veda Madhusudan
Summer Communications Intern

Veda is a summer communications intern at Zum and a rising sophomore at Wellesley College, where she majors in International Relations & Political Science. As a member of the women’s tennis team, she not only plays but also manages social media and publicity for the team and several South Asian cultural organizations on campus. In her free time, Veda enjoys watching cricket and Formula One, learning new languages, and dancing.

1. Sustainability

At Zum, we’re revolutionizing student transportation in order to build a green, sustainable future. What does sustainability mean to you?

To me, sustainability is reducing our exploitation of our limited natural resources. We need to preserve what we have through everyday practices.

I think this happens at both a macro and micro level. Companies are responsible for the products they manufacture, and equally, we consumers can contribute and do our part. In high school, I led a clothing and feminine hygiene product drive in order to reclaim and reuse things that otherwise might have ended up in the trash. My school partnered with several homeless shelters and women’s organizations, and we ended up putting together 50 kits, with things like soap, towels, and toothbrushes. It was a small thing, but sustainability also includes small things, like recycling and reusing products instead of throwing them away.

2. Climate Change

Climate change is the single greatest threat to our way of life, but it can sometimes feel abstract, far away, a problem for another time. How has climate change affected you personally?

I grew up in Short Hills, New Jersey, but also lived in India for ten years of my childhood. Climate change has affected both places, albeit differently. In New Jersey, I’ve seen warmer weather, destructive flooding, people losing their jobs and homes. Last year, the forest fires in Canada turned the sky orange and made the air taste like burnt rubber. It made climate change real, to see that with my own eyes.

The impact of climate change was even worse in India. I lived in Mumbai, where I witnessed coastal flooding, landslides, droughts, and food shortages, just to name a few outcomes of adverse climate events. This, of course, presents an unique opportunity for government, policy-makers, non-profits, and communities to collaboratively tackle climate change.

Climate change is a critical challenge that our generation needs to address, and it’s only going to get worse. This issue needs our attention.

3. Leadership

What can Zum do to be a leader in sustainability, to spearhead the charge in the fight against climate change?

I’m in college, so I think a lot about how people are educated about certain topics. Yes, Zum is transitioning its fleets to electric vehicles, which is a huge step toward decarbonization, but one of the coolest aspects of this—and one that’s often not talked about—is that, by exposing students, parents, and schools to electrified transportation, we’re increasing awareness of cleaner methods of living, we’re changing the narrative, we’re changing the norm. Soon, there’s going to be an entire generation of kids who only ever rode to school on electric school buses—and those kids are going to carry the torch and continue the fight against climate change. It’s really powerful. It’s the way forward.